Knowledge Needs Love

What I know apart from Who I know won’t get me very far in the kingdom. That’s what I’m picking up from what Paul’s laying down this morning. Knowledge needs love.

Now concerning food offered to idols: we know that “all of us possess knowledge.” This “knowledge” puffs up, but love builds up. If anyone imagines that he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought to know. But if anyone loves God, he is known by God.

(1Corinthians 8:1-3 ESV)

To eat, or not to eat? That was the question. For those who knew that “an idol has no real existence”, and understood that while we might use the term “gods” there really is only one God, it was no big deal to chow down on meat that had likely been butchered as an offering to some non-existent, inanimate, deity of man’s own making. “For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving” (1Tim. 4:4).

However, Paul goes on to say, “not all possess this knowledge” (1Cor. 8:7). There were brothers and sisters who, though now saved, once were in bondage to idol worship. For them, the meat thing was a real thing. Sacrificing animals to false gods and then eating the meat was what they were saved out of, it was the Egyptian bondage they had been released from. How could they go back to Egypt and eat such meat again?

So, whaddya do when everyone’s not working off the same page? In that case, simply having knowledge, knowing “the truth” about something, isn’t enough. In fact, on it’s own, it’s kind of dangerous.

This “knowledge” puffs up . . .

Such “redeemed” understanding, on it’s own, can actually manifest itself in very “non-redeemed” types of behavior. It can swell the head. Make boastful the heart. Having been enlightened to see that eating meat is not sin, without something else in the mix, can source other sin like pride.

What I know is not enough if I want to be who I should be. Knowledge on it’s own is dangerous. But knowledge with love is advantageous. The knowledge of God, when mixed with the love of God, produces the fruit of God.

This “knowledge” puffs up, but love builds up.

Our knowledge has been tested over this past year in ways we couldn’t have imagined a year ago. For example, some know that we are to love one another, outdo one another in showing honor, live in harmony with one another, and not pass judgment on one another (Rom. 12:10, 12:16, 14:13). That we are to serve one another (Gal. 5:13), bear one another’s burdens (Gal 6:2), and submit to one another (Eph. 5:21). So, no brainer — wear a mask and keep your distance.

Others know that our lives are in God’s hands (Job 12:10), that our days have been ordained by Him (Ps. 139:16), and that no one’s gonna die before their time. We also know that we should be anxious for nothing (Php 4:6), that we “did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear” (Rom. 8:15), and, in fact, we have been delivered from the fear of death (Heb. 2:15). So, forget the masks and let’s give another a big hug!

Both have knowledge. Both walk in truth. But, without something else in the mix, such knowledge can lead to inflated egos, infuriated talk, and inevitable division.

If anyone imagines that he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought to know.

We’ll only know as we ought to know when we love as we ought to love.

But if anyone loves God, he is known by God.

Only when our knowledge of God is combined with the love of God will we walk in the way known, or approved, by God. His children reflecting His character. His people modeling His patience. His kindred displaying His kindness. His body exuding His beauty.

Knowledge is good. But knowledge needs love.

By His grace. For His glory.

Posted in 1Corinthians | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Be Clingy

Read Joshua 22 and 23 this morning. My food for thought? One word repeated three times. A word when used as an adjective is, I think, most often viewed unfavorably in our individualistic, you-got-to-stand-on-your-own-two-feet cultural way of thinking. My sense is that nobody wants to be viewed as clingy.

If our 18 month old becomes clingy, we tend to view it as something we have to help them grow out of. If it’s an adult we describe as clingy, we’re thinking they’ve become too attached, or too dependent on someone or something. Again, a condition to be corrected.

But as I noodle on the use of the word cling in this morning’s reading, it seems that the condition of being clingy isn’t necessarily a bad thing if we’re clinging to the right thing.

Joshua 22 opens up with the Canaan Conquest Campaign for the most part complete. God’s chosen people have moved into God’s promised land. All that remains is the “clean up.” For the most part, the major battles have been fought, most of the previous tenants removed, and the new landowners have divvied up the territory among themselves. As Joshua puts it, the LORD had given them rest just as He promised (Josh. 22:4). And so Joshua dismisses the two-and-one-half tribes of Israel who’s possession was already given east of the Jordan. And in sending off the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and half the tribe of Manasseh, Joshua gives them this charge:

“Only be very careful to observe the commandment and the law that Moses the servant of the LORD commanded you, to love the LORD your God, and to walk in all His ways and to keep His commandments and to cling to Him and to serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul.”

(Joshua 22:5 ESV)

Be careful to obey the LORD your God. Love Him. Serve Him. Cling to Him.

The CSB says remain faithful, but I don’t think that really captures the intensity of the charge — sounds too passive. The CSB even notes in the margin that a more literal translation would be hold on. Hold on to the LORD. Embrace Him (MSG). Hold fast to Him (NASB, NIV, NKJV). Hold firmly to Him (NLT). Cleave to Him (KJV). Stay close, really close! Cling to Him.

The two and half tribes had fought the good fight. They had stepped up and engaged in the conflict. But now they would return to the everyday, mundane things of raising a family and working the land. And as they part, Joshua says to them, “Cling to the Lord.”

Then, in chapter 23, “a long time afterward” when Joshua is “old and well advanced in years”, he’s still talking about being clingy as he winds down his leadership of Israel.

“Therefore, be very strong to keep and to do all that is written in the Book of the Law of Moses, turning aside from it neither to the right hand nor to the left, that you may not mix with these nations remaining among you or make mention of the names of their gods or swear by them or serve them or bow down to them, but you shall cling to the LORD your God just as you have done to this day. . . . For if you turn back and cling to the remnant of these nations remaining among you and make marriages with them, so that you associate with them and they with you, . . . they shall be a snare and a trap for you . . .”

(Joshua 23:6-8, 12a, 13b ESV)

I’m thinking that we were made to be clingy. To attach ourselves to something. If not to our God, then to ourselves or, to something else around us. If not holding fast to walk in His ways, then to being trapped in the world’s ways. If not wholly determined with a holy determination to hold on, stay close, and worship Him alone, then to run the very real risk of slipping away and eventually clinging to worthless idols which can’t sustain us, grasping fruitless pursuits which ultimately never pay off.

Be clingy.

Cling to the right things. Cling to the right way. Cling to the One worthy of our clinginess.

By His grace. For His glory.

Posted in Joshua | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Identity in the Identifiers

Words matter. Vocabulary creates culture. Identifiers have a way of forming identity.

Learned this early in my Christian experience. By God’s grace I was saved into a group of believers that took words seriously. Who were careful to try and only use biblical terminology to describe biblical things. For example, we didn’t go to church on Sunday mornings, instead we’d say we went to meeting because the church is a gathered people, or were going to the chapel because that’s an appropriate name for a building. Our preachers didn’t preach sermons, you won’t find the word sermon in the Bible. But as messengers of God, they gave messages, a word you will find in the Bible. Subtle? Yeah. Can perhaps be overdone? Maybe. Could be a source of some unhealthy pride for using “biblical language only”? Sometimes. But formative? Yup. Was for this guy — to this day.

Formative and, I think, not unfounded. What if, as God’s people, we only used terms to refer to ourselves which are biblical terms. And what if, we used all the terms? Not just calling ourselves Christians as a mindless moniker (only found twice in the Bible by the way), but also referring to ourselves as believers; as brothers and sisters (we use to use that a lot); as disciples or followers; as saints. If we were more careful in our identifiers for ourselves, might it not serve us to live into our identity in Christ? I’m thinkin . . .

Here’s what spurred the thought this morning:

O God, the nations have come into Your inheritance; they have defiled Your holy temple; they have laid Jerusalem in ruins. They have given the bodies of Your servants to the birds of the heavens for food, the flesh of Your faithful to the beasts of the earth.

(Psalm 79:1-2 ESV)

Psalm 79 seems to be a song of lament coming out of the Babylonian invasion. Having entered the land, defiled the temple, and laid waste Jerusalem, the Babylonian hoard had also killed many of God’s people. And what pops for me in these opening verses, what I think the Spirit for some reason brings to my attention, is the way in which the songwriter refers to God’s people. They are His servants. They are His faithful.

Now how’s that for biblical language? Imagine trying it on as part of our normative vocabulary when referring to ourselves and addressing others on a Sunday morning.

Good morning, I don’t think we’ve met. I’m servant Sam. What’s your name?

I’m faithful Fran. It’s my first time attending your meeting. So appreciated this morning’s message.

Welcome! Let me introduce you to some other of God’s servants and God’s faithful.

Doesn’t quite roll off our modern, culturally attuned tongues too smoothly. But if we got in the habit of referring to ourselves as God’s servants and the Lord’s faithful, you got to think that over time it’s going to shape how we see ourselves. Just as would referring to ourselves as saints, disciples, and brothers and sisters.

Reminded this morning, as received by the Spirit, that I was saved to be a servant and called to be faithful. A lot wrapped up in those words. The implications of such vocabulary pretty far reaching. To think about practically living it out, a bit daunting. But if it’s how my Father sees me, then it’s how I want to be seen. My identity shaped by His identifiers.

By His grace. For His glory.

Posted in Psalms | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Radical but Logical

His ask is so radical, but Paul’s reasoning is so logical. Hovering over a few verses in 1Corinthians 6 this morning and thinking about the church.

Situation: when one brother has a grievance against another. A dispute needing to be settled. Apparently involving some monetary, material, or contractual disagreement. That was the situation, but that wasn’t the problem. After all, stuff’s gonna happen within a family. Every community’s going to have its share of conflict. That there were grievances was just a situation. The problem was how those in the church at Corinth opted to resolve those grievances.

So if you have such cases, why do you lay them before those who have no standing in the church? I say this to your shame. Can it be that there is no one among you wise enough to settle a dispute between the brothers, but brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers? To have lawsuits at all with one another is already a defeat for you. Why not rather suffer wrong? Why not rather be defrauded?

(1Corinthians 6:4-7 ESV)

What seems to be an issue of such magnitude that Paul would address it in his letter, likely comes across as a non-issue to our modern, cultural mindset. Of course you go to court to deal with matters you can’t resolve yourself. A no brainer that if someone’s cheated you, that you leverage the judicial system to bring about justice. Absurd to think that you’d submit yourself to the church’s oversight, or other wise and trusted brothers and sisters in the church, to let them be the arbiter of a final outcome.

Radical? Perhaps. Logical? Apparently. Paul just saw it as the natural implication of their supernatural destination.

When one of you has a grievance against another, does he dare go to law before the unrighteous instead of the saints? Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases? Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, then, matters pertaining to this life!

(1Corinthians 6:1-3 ESV)

We’re gonna judge the world. How come we can’t judge ourselves? We’re gonna determine the outcome of angels in heaven? Why can’t we figure out a fair solution among ourselves here on earth? We are ambassadors in a foreign land of unbelievers, why air our dirty laundry before them? We have eternal riches awaiting us, why fight among ourselves over earthly goods? Radical? Yup. But, at least in theory, doesn’t it ring true?

Seems to me the greater principle here is not about lawsuits, but about living into who we are as the people of God. Knowing who we are in Christ, we then purpose to conduct ourselves in a manner consistent with being in Christ. Not just as individuals, but as a local church, as well. As the community of believers. As the family of God. As the body of Christ. Willing, for the sake of our collective testimony, to step outside the prevailing cultural mindset. Even if it means submitting to the church, willing to abide by it’s discernment. Even it that means being swindled by a brother and leaving it to the Lord to adjudicate the situation in His time.

Sure, all predicated on us, as individuals and as a church, not just knowing the word of God but whole-heartedly committed to living by the word of God. Founded on living in such authentic community that we trust the community. Only possible though, as our jealousy for the reputation of Christ compels us to take a risk and wholly trust in Christ.

Lawsuits, just one example of living into who we are in Christ, both as individuals and as the church.

Radical? Yeah, no doubt. But logical? I’m thinkin’ . . .

Only possible by His grace. But wouldn’t it be such an amazing witness for His glory?

Posted in 1Corinthians | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

He Steadies the Pillars

It’s a song about judgment. A set time appointed by God when He will “judge with equity.” A time when “a cup with foaming wine” is poured out and the wicked of the earth “shall drain it down to the dregs.” The earth destabilized. Things as they always were turned upside down. What once seemed unshakeable becoming utterly unstable. And in the midst of this song of judgment is a soul-quieting promise. A promise for that day, but also, I think, a promise for today.

When the earth totters, and all its inhabitants, it is I who keep steady its pillars. Selah

(Psalm 75:3 ESV)

The new translations picture the earth tottering, shaking, or quaking as God’s judgment rolls out. The older translations speak of it dissolving or melting away. Whatever the exact meaning of the original word, the idea is of things coming apart. What was once solid becoming increasingly fluid. What was once certain, increasingly unpredictable. And though that happens, God steadies the pillars.

While the prevailing posture of God towards the earth in our day is still that of grace — patient not willing that any should perish (2Pet. 3:9-10) — you could argue that His judgment is apparent as well. Judgment in a Romans 1 sense. That, as men refuse to honor the Creator as God or give thanks to Him but exchange the glory of God for idols of their own making (Rom. 1:18-23), God “gives them up.” Gives them up to the lusts of the heart (1:24). Gives them up to dishonorable passions (1:26). Gives them up to a debased mind to do what out not to be done (1:28). And, as with all judgment of God, this “giving up” to man to do what man’s gonna do, has a far-reaching, residual effect. It causes the earth and all its inhabitants — the righteous and the not so righteous — to totter.

Tottering. Teetering. Quaking. Shaking. Hasn’t that been the experience of so many, especially over this past year? I’m thinkin’ . . .

But He steadies the pillars. He reinforces the foundation. Even in this severity His kindness is known.

For the believer, He steadies the pillars as His Spirit intercedes with our spirit concerning His Sovereign control, His eternal promises, His all sufficient grace, and His ever-present help in time of need.

For the unbeliever, as things they once took for granted, their self-made securities melt away, His Spirit woos them to Himself. As they find themselves in desperate, dead-end situations and come to their senses (Lk. 15:17), He shows them the way home to a Father who is waiting with open arms to receive them, to adopt them, to provide for every need in ways only He could.

He steadies the pillars.

Worth remembering as we watch the news. Worth repeating to ourselves as we process this whirling world around us. Worth declaring to those who have lost their footing and are desperately seeking some solid ground. He steadies the pillars.

By His grace. For His glory.

Posted in Psalms | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Achin’ Over Achan

Not sure I can really develop the thought that’s spinning around in my head. Want to be careful about “over-applying” an Old Testament narrative to the New Testament church. But I think there’s something worth noodling on here. So, just gonna throw down a few thoughts “on paper” and see what lands.

While not extensively versed in the book of Joshua, I’m pretty familiar with it. So, when I start in on Joshua 7 and see the section title, “Israel Defeated at Ai”, I know why before I read it. More accurately, I know who. That’s why reading the opening words of chapter 7 cause a question mark to pop over my head.

But the people of Israel broke faith in regard to the devoted things . . .

(Joshua 7:1a ESV)

Stop right there. Hold on a sec. Wait a minute!

The people of Israel broke faith? Really? The whole nation? Everyone? Nope! Not how I remember it. But, evidently, yup! That’s the way it was.

. . . for Achan the son of Carmi, son of Zabdi, son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took some of the devoted things. And the anger of the LORD burned against the people of Israel.

(Joshua 7:1b ESV)

Achan. One guy. One family. They were the ones who had specifically “broken faith.” They were the ones who took some of the spoils of Jericho (7:20-21) they were told not to take (6:18-19) and stashed them in their tent. Achan, not Israel. Yet, the holy record, breathed out by the Holy Spirit, says that Achan’s sin translated into a national transgression. Though one man was at fault, the whole nation was counted as guilty (7:11).

Doesn’t process really well through our culturally informed, individualistic mindset — the mindset that says, I’m responsible for me and you are responsible for you. Might be true in the world, evidently not so much when it comes to those chosen out of the world. Might make sense to those aligned to the individual pursuit of happiness, apparently doesn’t line up so well with those who have been set apart as a chosen people.

What does this say about being the people of God? Owning not only our individual salvation but also our collective witness? Not just about our individual actions, but something also about our collective accountability? That it’s not just about my “personal relationship” with Christ but also about my being a “member of the body” of Christ? Not only am I no longer my own (1Cor. 6:19), I’m also no longer on my own (Rom. 12:5, Eph. 4:25).

Like I said, want to be careful about carrying any application too far (there was also other sin, presumption, and complacency at play which led to the defeat at Ai). But I do think there’s something to chew on here about how we should view being the people of God and “members one of another” (Rom. 12:5). Something about collective responsibility. Something about mutual accountability. Something about why there needs to be a deep, authentic, relational care and concern for one another in the church (1Cor. 12:25).

If one member suffers, all suffer together . . .

(1Corinthians 12:26a ESV)

Achin’ a bit over the implications of Achan. Seems so foreign to our culture. But aren’t we called to be foreigners in this land and somewhat counter-cultural? Aren’t we of a different kingdom? “A chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession, that [we] may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called [us] out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1Pet. 2:9)? I’m thinkin’ . . .

O, to live authentically as the people of God. To love one another as the people of God. To watch out for each other as the people of God. To own our reputation and witness together as the people of God.

By His grace. For His glory.

Posted in Joshua | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Rolled Away

They were in. Having once walked through the Red Sea on dry ground as they left the bondage of Egypt, they now had just walked through the flooded Jordan on dry ground as they entered the promised land. They were in.

For forty years they were the butt of jokes back in Egypt every time some worn traveler to Egypt reported they were still nomads. For forty years they were scorned. The memory of the power that had been shown at their deliverance faded “back home” the longer the promise was unrealized. Some god, the Egyptians taunted among themselves, leading them from a land abundant with “fish, cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions, and garlic” (Num. 11:5) for a land supposedly flowing with milk and honey only to let them languish in a wilderness eating whatever showed up on the ground in the morning. Some deliverance. Big deal!

But now, they were in.

As soon as all the kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan to the west, and all the kings of the Canaanites who were by the sea, heard that the LORD had dried up the waters of the Jordan for the people of Israel until they had crossed over, their hearts melted and there was no longer any spirit in them because of the people of Israel. At that time the LORD said to Joshua, “Make flint knives and circumcise the sons of Israel a second time.” . . .

When the circumcising of the whole nation was finished, they remained in their places in the camp until they were healed. And the LORD said to Joshua, “Today I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you.” And so the name of that place is called Gilgal to this day.

(Joshua 5:1-2, 8-9 ESV)

The generation that had been born in the desert were now formally set apart for covenant with the living God. For they were now in the land of promise and were about to appropriate the promise of the land. The manna had ceased as the desert was in their rearview mirror. They were now eating of the fruit of the land flowing with milk and honey (Josh. 5:11-12). Tasting and, in fact, seeing that the Lord is good. The wandering over, now the journey was going to get really interesting!

God had rolled away the reproach. The tongues of mockers stopped. Though the armchair quarterbacks of Egypt thought it folly for Israel to roam about for decades, to not return to the certain “nourishment” of their former bondage, the people of God now stood on the doorsill of experiencing the next level of the promise-fulfilling power of God.

As another of my morning readings put it, though the world they left behind had considered their deliverance foolishness, it had actually been the wisdom of God.

God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.

(1Corinthians 1:27-29 ESV)

They were in. The reproach rolled away.

Rolled away. Hit me as a not too familiar expression in the Scriptures. Yet was reminded that it is also not a unique expression.

But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.

(Luke 24:1-3 ESV)

The stone removed. The finished work of the cross validated by the empty tomb. The scorn silenced. The mocking but a memory. The reproach rolled away.

They were in. Now the journey was going to get really interesting!

By His grace. For His glory.

Posted in Joshua | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Enriched

Three words. That’s what I’m chewing on this morning. Two of those words popping, I’m sure, because of a book I’ve been reading by Rankin Wilbourne on the doctrine of our Union with Christ — in which one of the early takeaways is that the realization of what it means to be “in Christ”, and for Christ to be in you, comes through activating the imagination. And that’s where the third word comes in, it’s the imagination word. Enriched.

I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus, that in every way you were enriched in Him in all speech and all knowledge . . .

(1Corinthians 1:4-5 ESV)

Enriched in Him. As the church of God (v.1) the Corinthians were enriched in Him. As individuals within that body of believers, they were enriched in Him.

It’s the third “in Christ” reference in these first five verses. Paul greets them as those “sanctified in Christ Jesus” (v.1). He thanks God for them because of the grace of God “that was given you in Christ Jesus” (v.4). The result? In every way they were enriched in Him.

Paul highlights a couple of the ways they were enriched. They were made rich in the gospel vocabulary that was now theirs. This a result of the supernatural insight they possessed as those given eyes to see and ears to hear the mystery of God’s redemptive plan. In addition, they were “not lacking” in any spiritual gift (v.6). But these were but three particular areas of inherited wealth in the context of being enriched in Him in every way.

It is the reality of those who are in Christ, that they are richly furnished in all things. Noodle on it. How could that not be the case? If the life we now live is being lived by “Christ who lives in me” (Gal. 2:20), then how can the life we now live not be enriched? No matter the circumstance or the season, it is still lived by Christ who lives in me. The mind of Christ. The heart of Christ. The power of Christ. The riches of Christ with which He has richly blessed us.

The word of Christ dwelling in us richly (Col. 3:16). The Spirit of Christ poured out on us richly (Titus 3:5-6). All commensurate with the immeasurable riches of His grace (Eph. 1:7). The Father ready, willing, and able to meet every need “according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Php. 4:19). The riches go on an on. Eternally sourced riches. Everlasting, unfading riches. Unimaginable, unfathomable riches. Ours as we are enriched in Him.

Meditate on it, even for a just a bit, and it’s one those things that is easier felt than tell’t. Something that stirs the soul with possibility yet ties the tongue when trying to explain it with precision. Something more easily imagined than articulated.

We possess heaven-sourced wealth in Christ. Ours is to live into those riches through Christ. To access the treasury already made ours. To withdraw from the vault all that comes with our union with Christ. A journey only realized as it is enabled by Him.

Father, lead me, by Your Spirit, into accessing the riches, in every way, which are already mine in Your Son.

By Your grace. For Your glory.

Posted in 1Corinthians | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

A Heart to Understand, Eyes to See, and Ears to Hear

You think it would have been easy for them to get it. After all, they had walked out Egypt, walked through the Red Sea, and made it through the desert. They had seen the plagues, been overshadowed by the cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night, and had received water from a rock and bread from heaven. They had known the goodness of God’s blessing and had experienced the severity of His wrath. And for the forty years they wandered between where they were and where they were going, their clothes had not worn out, nor had their sandals worn off their feet (Deut. 29:5).

Come on people! After all that, how could turning to other gods even be a possibility? How could you not have known your God to such an extent that turning your back to Him wouldn’t even have entered your mind?

But it did enter their minds. They would choose idols of wood and stone, of silver and gold, over the One who made the wood and stone, the silver and the gold. How is that possible?

Chewing on a verse in Deuteronomy which reminds me of the connect between us getting it and God giving it.

And Moses summoned all Israel and said to them: “You have seen all that the LORD did before your eyes in the land of Egypt, to Pharaoh and to all his servants and to all his land, the great trials that your eyes saw, the signs, and those great wonders. But to this day the LORD has not given you a heart to understand or eyes to see or ears to hear.

(Deuteronomy 29:2-4 ESV)

How messed up did man’s heart become through the fall? How impaired his faculties? To the point where even seeing was not believing. That apart from God’s intervening grace in providing a heart to understand, eyes to see, and ears to hear, no matter what they saw, no matter what they experienced, even if someone should rise from the dead, they would not believe (Lk. 16:31).

Not that it removes man’s responsibility and accountability. For it’s the self-will of man which refuses the heart, the eyes, and the ears God is ready to freely give. But apart from God’s divine intervention with our five common senses, His glory remains grey. His power is not perceived. His love is left unrequited.

Sure, I opened my bible this morning. But as I hover over it, again beholding “wondrous things out of His law” (Ps. 119:18), I’m thankful that, through the active agency of the Spirit of God in me, He has given me a heart to understand, eyes to see, and ears to hear.

Just like clothes and sandals which never wear out, despite the daily sojourn in the desert, just having something to chew on from His word every morning is a daily reminder of His abiding presence, His faithful provision, and His ever prevailing power.

All because of grace. Only for His glory.

Posted in Deuteronomy | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Easter Preparation

It’s not like the chief priests and Pharisees didn’t pick up what Jesus was laying down. Not as if they missed something. It wasn’t that they didn’t understand the implications of what He was saying or failed to talk hold of some nuance concerning His claims. By the time they forced Pilate’s hand and had Jesus crucified, they clearly understood that the proof in the pudding as to whether or not Jesus was the Christ lay in whether or not Jesus rose from the dead.

The next day, that is, after the day of Preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate and said, “Sir, we remember how that impostor said, while He was still alive, ‘After three days I will rise.’ Therefore order the tomb to be made secure until the third day, lest His disciples go and steal Him away and tell the people, ‘He has risen from the dead,’ and the last fraud will be worse than the first.”

(Matthew 27:62-64 ESV)

Two thousand years later and His disciples are preparing, yet again, to tell the people, “He has risen from the dead!” Lord willing (though wouldn’t it be cool if they were “postponed” due to His coming again before then?), our Easter remembrances and celebrations are just around the corner. That Sunday when we will focus afresh on the foundation for our faith. And it really is the foundation of our faith!

And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. . . . your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.

(1Corinthians 15:14, 17b-18 ESV)

The chief priests and Pharisees went to Pilate and asked that the place where the dead body of Jesus had been laid — the tomb cut in the rock with a great stone sealing it’s entrance (Mt. 27:59) — be sealed through government edict and secured by government military forces. And why? Not because they didn’t understand who Jesus claimed to be, but because they did. Yet, they refused to believe Him.

They called Him an impostor. They were afraid that His followers would aid in His deception and perpetuate His fraud. And the way to end all of it, right there and right then, was to make sure His body was still in the tomb on the fourth day after His death. (Spoiler alert: It wasn’t!)

He has risen from the dead!

I know, this is Christianity 101 stuff, but let us guard against it become Christianity “yawn-and-hohum” stuff. Let not the common knowledge of the resurrection seed a crop of complacency. Let not that which is so well known be taken for granted. God forbid that its familiarity should no longer cause our jaws to drop and our hearts to be aflame with awe, wonder, and worship.

The tomb is empty. Jesus was no impostor.

His claims were not fraudulent — neither the first nor the last. He is the Son of God. He did come to give His life as a ransom for many. Whoever believes in Him will have eternal life. For, He is risen from the dead.

Thus, because He lives, we also will live.

By grace alone. Through faith alone. For God’s glory alone.

Posted in Matthew | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment